Standing under the bright lights at the UC pool on Tuesday night, TriCanes coach Ken Groce hands out small slips of paper to swimmers passing by.
“These are the work-out schedules for tonight,” said Groce, who continues to pass out the slips as he speaks.
TriCanes is the student-run triathlon club at UM. The team was restarted as a university club sport six years ago. Besides at the UC pool, you can find TriCanes at spin classes in the Wellness Center, on group bike rides around Miami and even on open water swims by Key Biscayne.
Groce, a former UM swimmer, has been involved in the triathlon community of South Florida for years.
Triathlons consist of three phases: swimming, bicycling, and running. TriCanes are eligible to compete in local and collegiate competitions at distances ranging from Sprint, Olympic and Collegiate to Half Ironman and Ironman.
There are currently 75 members on TriCanes; 30 to 40 attend at least two of the 14 offered practices each week. Membership to the team is open to all students, alumni and faculty members of the university.
“This is a club that anybody can join,” said junior Rachel Losada, TriCanes vice president. “It doesn’t matter where you are because there will be somebody at your level.”
TriCanes is one of the largest university triathlon teams in Florida. Other schools in the state with sizable teams are FSU, USF, UF and UCF.
Members of TriCanes compete at local events and at the Collegiate National Championships event, to be held this April in Tuscaloosa, AL, where athletes can compete both individually and as a team. The championship event is held by the USA Triathlon organization, which encourages collegiate competition to prepare athletes for the Olympic Games.
Coach Groce volunteers his time with TriCanes at least three times a week. When he’s not helping with training, Groce runs his own consulting company in the civil engineering industry.
“I enjoy helping kids improve on the collegiate and local level,” Groce said. “It’s therapy for me away from work and for them it’s a stress release.”
Groce’s volunteer work with the team does not go unnoticed by club members. Sophomore Brian Van Cleaves, TriCanes president, had never competed in a triathlon before he joined the club last year. He accredits much of his success to the instruction he’s received from his coach.
“Coach Groce really helped me,” Van Cleaves said. “There are tons of books and videos [on how to do triathlons], but [Groce] would sit us down in the UC and explain how to transition during a race.”
The team members look up to him not only as a coach, but as mentor and friend as well.
“He’s the kind of person who will listen to your problems, give you life advice and then tell you to get in the pool,” Losada said.
-Students can find information for membership and practice schedules for TriCanes
-New members are encouraged at any time, but the triathlon season runs from
February to October
-There are no obligations to giving the club a try; TriCanes has equipment for new
members to borrow.
Rachel Hyman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org